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The Devil Wears Prada

But Perhaps Not in the Springs

Could Colorado Springs emerge as a fashion capital? Not a chance, according to the novelty real estate bloggers at Movoto.com.

The online agency which describes itself as “real estate light,” grabbed headlines last spring when it published “Where Fashion Dies: The Ten Worst-Dressed Cities.”  Our fair community earned the No. 2 spot. The study was conducted by the same folks – seriously – who have also identified the “10 Least Hipster Cities,” “Top Cities for Gamers” and “10 Cities Where You Might be Eaten by a Dragon.”

So how is “fashionableness” measured?

Movoto determined the city’s lack of sartorial sophistication based on its zero high-end clothing, shoe and jewelry stores per capita and a lack of good tailors using Yelp.com. We were not alone. Other “zero” communities included Albuquerque, Cleveland and San Antonio.  El Paso, Jacksonville, Indianapolis, Tulsa, Louisville and Milwaukee made the list with at least one qualifying retailer.

American Affluence Research Center CEO and President Ron Kurtz points to the Pikes Peak region’s western culture and values as a reason for the low ranking. Its outdoor-focused lifestyle is hard to compare to more cosmopolitan, faster-paced East or West coast cities.

“Typically tourist destinations – especially those popular with international and affluent visitors – can support more upscale retail because the visitors supplement local spending,” he says of Movoto’s criteria.

The Broadmoor’s upscale retail shops, he points out, were notably missing. 

Our designation may also be tied to the composition of our local population. El Paso County’s 65+ demographic, for example, is expected to triple by 2040. Colorado Springs was also named one of the country’s top 10 retirement spots by Kiplinger.com in 2011.

Kurtz notes that more mature and senior residents don’t spend as much on luxury retail items. And younger Generation Y consumers are focused on buying and furnishing their first homes.

“Those could both be factors,” he says.

Finally, disposable income – or the lack of – is key. High net worth individuals consistently generate demand for luxury retail, Kurtz explains. According to Pikes Peak region March 2012 U.S. Census Bureau data, annual per capita money income was $28,624. Local median income for a family of four was $60,600 in 2010, down 10 percent from a decade earlier. That’s hardly going to attract Tiffany’s or Neiman Marcus, especially with upscale shopping in Denver (the nation’s 24th largest city) just a short drive away.

Movoto’s assessment has definitely sparked discussion among those in the fashion know.

Four local style-setters, several of whom have only recently moved to the area, agreed to weigh in on the Movoto survey. Southwest Colorado Springs golf and tennis enthusiast Leslie Nathan, KKTV 11 News Anchor and relative newcomer Dianne Derby, Chapman Family Foundations Program Manager Andie Doyle and Public Relations and Event Promoter Anne Marie Pacitto exchanged views on the subject.
Their observations provide a fascinating glimpse into our city’s fashion priorities and profile.  

Dianne Derby

Difference in Locale: Colorado Springs is definitely casual. People put more effort into practicality and comfort with our outdoor lifestyle. In the South people dress, whether it’s for a football game, the grocery store or WalMart.

The Right Fit: Spanx and a good tailor are my fashion essentials. They make everything look better. Clothing off the rack is for someone 5’9;” I alter almost everything. On air, I like to wear dresses. With my schedule, time is precious. You can put a dress on, and it’s done.
Comfortable in

Your Skin: I really don’t change much when I travel; I dress like myself, no matter what. Comfortable shoes are important – but I won’t wear sneakers. Then again, I’ll never wear 5-inch heels either!

Less is More: You should feel like a “10” in whatever you wear. If I’m worried about how I look, I won’t be focused on the news. If something’s not flattering, I won’t wear it. That means there’s less in the closet but it all works.

A Smart Investment: I’ll only buy something very expensive if I can justify “cost per wear.” If I wear a trench coat I paid a lot for all the time, the cost per wear may be just a few dollars.On Style

Colorado is beautiful, so people embrace the outdoors and dress for it. At least I do. During the day I’m usually in workout or golf clothes. At night I like fun jeans or slacks. Our lifestyle is very casual; we spend a lot of time hiking and being outdoors in the mountains.

Staples: Something black, a good pair of jeans and great shoes will work almost anywhere in the world. At night, the higher the heels, the better! During the day, it’s tennis shoes or flats. My lifestyle is mostly casual, but I enjoy dressing; I just don’t like to spend exorbitantly on clothes.

Andie Doyle

Observations: Wardrobes are influenced by what’s important to people. We moved here from Tulsa where people dress up more, but Colorado Springs is definitely “casual chic.”  When we went to Mexico with Colorado friends you could pick them all out on the beach:  they all wore puffy vests with swimsuits!

Must Haves: My essentials are a fun scarf, a maxi skirt, a lightweight jersey cardigan, knee-hi boots and definitely tights.  I also prefer dresses.  They’re easy; you have just one thing to put on, and you can dress it up or down.  I also have a lot of relaxed yoga and weekend clothes.  Coordinating a lot of dressy casual outfits is a real head-scratcher for me.

Travel Tips: For travel, clothes need to be darker in the northeast and brighter and more colorful in California or Florida. I’ve learned you also have to cover up more overseas; I got my legs slapped in Turkey for wearing shorts.

In Your Own Backyard: Local boutiques have been a great resource.  With two kids, and one on the way, I won’t be driving to Denver to buy an outfit.  Some of my favorite outfits have come from shops right down the street – and I’m supporting local business.

Leslie Nathan

When Traveling: My husband and I travel a lot. Everyplace is casual now – including New York City. Even in high-end restaurants and venues, skinny black pants and a top with high heels look appropriate. There’s definitely a more casual vibe than in the past.

Shopping Source: I think the real key to being fashionable is to know your body and what looks good on it. I do some shopping in Colorado Springs, but many of our department stores seem to buy for a lower-end market. That creates a problem. I love to look through fashion magazines and then go online for specifics.Andie Doyle

Observations: Wardrobes are influenced by what’s important to people. We moved here from Tulsa where people dress up more, but Colorado Springs is definitely “casual chic.”  When we went to Mexico with Colorado friends you could pick them all out on the beach:  they all wore puffy vests with swimsuits!

Must Haves: My essentials are a fun scarf, a maxi skirt, a lightweight jersey cardigan, knee-hi boots and definitely tights.  I also prefer dresses.  They’re easy; you have just one thing to put on, and you can dress it up or down.  I also have a lot of relaxed yoga and weekend clothes.  Coordinating a lot of dressy casual outfits is a real head-scratcher for me.

Travel Tips: For travel, clothes need to be darker in the northeast and brighter and more colorful in California or Florida. I’ve learned you also have to cover up more overseas; I got my legs slapped in Turkey for wearing shorts.

In Your Own Backyard: Local boutiques have been a great resource.  With two kids, and one on the way, I won’t be driving to Denver to buy an outfit.  Some of my favorite outfits have come from shops right down the street – and I’m supporting local business.

Anne Marie Pacitto

Rebel at Heart: I’m originally from Detroit and lived in L.A. before moving here.  I love Colorado Springs and thoroughly enjoy its nature-inspired lifestyle. When I first moved here, I was so relieved to not have to wear makeup and be so “put together.”  The key, however, is balance. You have to respect and appreciate your appearance

From the Inside Out: How you project your personal style, how you take care of yourself and how you allow your inner beauty to show through are all important. That being said, whether you’re a stay-at-home mom or work, educate yourself!  Pay attention to what (trends) are going on around you and adopt those that best suit your individual style , coloring and body type.

The WOW Factor: Statement pieces – like a great cuff bracelet, dramatic shoes, or a standout scarf or handbag with a blast of color – are what take the simple black dress to level “10.”  I go for simple chic, with a sense of edginess in the accessories.  Think leather necklace. What is most essential in fashion, however,  is quality rather than quantity, as well as the basics like a good hair cut and healthy, glowing skin. That winning combination makes a fashion statement of its own.